Three cheers for the Naylor Report on “Investing in Canada’s Future: Strengthening the Foundations of Canadian Research”.
The Royal Canadian Institute for Science (RCIS) applauds the release of the Naylor Report, which calls for a major increase in research funding. As stated in the Report, “The Panel’s single most important recommendation (R6.1) is that the federal government should rapidly increase its investment in independent investigator-led research to redress the imbalance caused by differential investments favouring priority-driven targeted research over the past decade.” We also applaud the recommendation (R5.6) to support early career investigators-graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and new investigators, something that agencies like the Banting Research Foundation (http://bantingresearchfoundation.ca/) have as their mandate. Increased funding for individual research grants may not get the attention it deserves, but some studies 1 have shown that many small grants in diverse and high risk areas of research provide the best “bang for the buck”. Canada also needs “Big Science”, like investments in the SNOLAB (https://www.snolab.ca/), a world-class science facility located deep in a mine near Sudbury, and in vital infrastructure used by many researchers like Compute Canada.
The Fundamental Science Review Panel recommends the creation of a National Advisory Council on Research and Innovation (NACRI), replacing STIC, supported within the office of the newly-appointed Chief Science Advisor. We agree that an overarching organization such as NACRI can result in better governance and oversight of the performance of the major federal funding agencies. The RCIS supports a hard look at some the newer (and more expensive) funding programs such as CERCs, with a view of assessing their value and impact.
Most importantly, we welcome the recognition that “Great research ecosystems support public outreach,” and its importance to “the transition that Canada must undergo if it aspires to become the world’s smartest and most successful society.”
Since its founding in 1849, the RCIS has been promoting science, and has been bringing the work of scientists to the public. A far-reaching early achievement of the RCI was the establishment in 1914 of a Bureau of Science and Industrial Research to promote closer cooperation between science and industry. The Bureau and several RCI members substantially influenced the creation of the federal government’s Honorary Advisory Council on Scientific and Industrial Research (1916), forerunner of the National Research Council (1917) and the National Scientific and Engineering Research Foundation. The RCI also played a part in establishing the NRC Laboratories in Ottawa (1927) and the Ontario Research Foundation (1928).
The RCIS now calls on the many scientists and the many more Canadians who value science to support Science Minister, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan as she moves forward to implement the thoughtful recommendations made in the Naylor Report. A final round of applause to David Naylor and the expert members of the Panel for their contributions in highlighting the importance of science to Canada’s prosperity and future.
The RCIS (http://rciscience.ca/) is a platform for public engagement with scientists. Through public lectures and webcasts, we expand science dialogue and promote informed decision making in our communities. Founded in 1849, the RCIS is among the oldest societies of any kind in Canada and its longest-running scientific organization. It has a long tradition as an independent, not-for-profit organization, a credible source of scientific information, helping the public understand the vital role that science plays in our lives.